Dear Fiona: My mother is constantly in our house – and this makes things very uncomfortable

The problem is…

“When my stepfather died, my mother went to live nearby. I thought it would make things easier for all of us – we could keep an eye on her, and she could see meals and grandchildren. Instead, she was virtually gone inside.

“She turns up very early in the morning and stays up all day until my husband comes home from work. I try to work from home but nothing is impossible – sometimes she doesn’t seem to recognize that I have a job.

“If she’s unapologetic, it’s not too bad – but she’s often critical, disgusting and sometimes rude about me and my family. I’m the only child. So I haven’t got a brother or sister pillow to step on occasionally. She never stops short of how lonely she is. We took her with us on two holidays – one last year and a couple weeks ago.

“The kids get bored with her and when they enter school, they fly straight to their rooms to avoid seeing her. After we returned from our vacation, I tried to go out every day to avoid her, but I feel guilty. If she’s more pleasant to be around!”

Fiona says …

“I suspect your mother is still mourning the loss of your stepfather – she is miserable, probably missing him, and needs some form of death consultation. I suggest you contact Cruise Bereavement Care (cruise.org) and discuss things with her

“What started as an idea to make life easier for all of you has turned into a nightmare – and maybe even for you. By moving away from her old home, she has lost her support network – maybe she has friends and the different types of involvement she lives with?”

“She’s right to be close to you, and on time – if she’s too weak and needs help – you’ll probably be grateful. Now, she needs to rebuild her network, find new friends and stop relying on you. I think that has been.

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“Instead of looking at everything that is difficult for you, I suggest you start with one thing at a time. Rudeness is probably the obvious thing to deal with, so the next time she speaks out, tell her you’re rude and not ready to listen. Hopefully she finally gets the message out and adjusts her behavior accordingly.

“You can encourage her to make local friends of her age, and at the same time discourage her from leaving her whenever she feels like it. Think about what she’s doing – see what she’s involved with and what version of you is close. If not, encourage her to try something new.

“You don’t specify her age, but can she consider taking on something? It can be paid or voluntary – it requires her commitment and her to be evicted from her home (and yours). And it may take a lot of effort, but hopefully she’s getting around the corner, finding her own life and becoming less embarrassed, critical and rude.

If you have a problem and you need help, please email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated with complete confidence and to protect this privacy, Fiona will not be able to forward your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets not being able to access personal correspondence.

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